School Closure Plans Look Set To Go Ahead

Plans to close The Coseley School, because of falling pupil numbers and exam results, are set to be agreed this week.

The popular secondary school will undergo a phased closure over the next 12 months if plans due to go before Dudley Council’s cabinet this week are accepted.

In September 2016 the school had just over 520 pupils - half of its 975 capacity, and last year’s GCSE results placed it bottom of all borough secondary schools for five A*-C GCSEs including English and maths.

Cabinet members agreed a consultation exercise in January this year which more than 200 people responded to by completing the online questionnaire, with a  further 58 people writing directly to the council in addition to the questionnaire responses. Of those completing the questionnaire sixty eight per cent of people said the reasons for closing the school were clear while sixty two per cent supported the council’s promise to make arrangements for children to travel to alternative schools. Eighty four per cent of people responding to the consultation by questionnaire did not support the closure of the school despite the low pupil numbers, poor exam results and financial difficulties.

Prior to the consultation opening just 54 parents, including 15 from outside the borough, had chosen the school as their first preference for September 2016 against a maximum intake of 195. Since then, more than 196 parents have asked to move their children to other schools and only 26 have continued with their application for a place at the school for this September. The fall in pupil numbers over time has had a negative impact on the school’s finances. 

Cabinet look set to approve a phased closure of the school, to minimise impact on the pupils and staff, when they consider a report on May 26, which includes full closure by August 2017. Leisure facilities on the site would remain open to the public under the proposals. Meanwhile, council officers will be tasked with exploring future education provision at the Coseley School site once the upturn in secondary pupil numbers across the borough starts to have an impact from 2019 onwards. Councillor Ian Cooper, cabinet member for children’s services, said:

“We have looked long and hard at this issue, but we have to do the right thing for everyone at The Coseley School. In recent years it has experienced a dramatic decline in pupil numbers, poor exam results and financial difficulties which makes it almost impossible to deliver a suitable curriculum for pupils.

“The pupils at the school are at the heart of everything we do and that is why we have to make this very difficult decision in their interests; to make sure they have access to an education that they deserve.”

“The consultation showed our sensitive approach to a phased closure in helping younger pupils to move to other schools while supporting older pupils to complete their studies at the school. This has been largely supported by parents, and that is something we are committed to doing.

“But we have reached a point at The Coseley School where there really is no alternative to closing this school, in the interests of pupils, staff and the wider community.”

The school is currently judged by Ofsted as ‘requiring improvement’. Last year pupils at the school achieved 31 per cent five A*-C GCSEs including English and maths, which is well below the national minimum target of 40 per cent, placing it in the bottom 10 per cent of schools in the country. The very low number of parents from Dudley borough putting The Coseley School down as their choice for September 2016, means pupil numbers have fallen to critical levels. The financial issues at the school means if it tried to address them by reducing staff it would not be able to provide an appropriate curriculum for pupils.

The council has already identified alternative schools with spare capacity which could take pupils if the decision to close is taken. Cabinet are due to make a formal decision at the meeting on May 26.


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